December 08, 2017
NEWBURGH, N.Y. -
Daniel Dunn, a Mount psychology student and veteran, offered his insight on service animals at Mount Saint Mary College last month. He is seen here with his service dog, Brady.
The Dominican Center at Mount Saint Mary College was packed during a recent event focusing on veterans and service animals.
Experts discussed the ways in which animals can help in the healing process, as well as the legal rights of veterans regarding such animals. About a dozen veteran agencies shared resources with participants in between the talks.
And plenty of service animals were in attendance, too.
Speakers included Marcia A. Jacobowitz of Jacobowitz and Gubits, LLP; Kara Dorsey, president of the Hudson Valley Chapter for Canine Companions for Independence; Charlie Jackson of Blue Line K9 Services; P.J. Leo, a dog trainer; and more.
Daniel Dunn, a Mount student and veteran, was also featured speaker – but it was his service dog, Brady, who really stole the show.
Dunn served in the U.S. Navy for nearly eight years. He was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after acting as a first responder to a massive earthquake in Haiti.
Later, upon being hospitalized for an injury for that required rehabilitation, Dunn discovered that he was in little or no pain when he was interacting with the therapy dog that visited him once a week.
With this in mind, Dunn obtained a service dog. He was given strong PTSD medications, but they paled in comparison to the effect of his furry friend, Brady.
“Since having Brady, I have not taken a single medication for PTSD,” he explained. “He assists me with everyday things and makes me feel more confident about situations in which I normally would not…he changed my life forever.”
There’s a misconception that service dogs are only for people with physical ailments, Dunn told the audience. But some wounds aren’t visible, he said, recounting how he is sometimes questioned by customers while he’s out shopping with Brady. One customer said that Dunn didn’t need a service dog because he didn’t have any observable issues.
“Curiosity as to why that person has a service animal is normal,” he said. “However, that person has a right to keep that personal, protected by the American Disability Act. What I hope is taken from this event is the privacy and the rights of both the service dog and its handler so that others can respect them.”
The event was spearheaded by Lisa Galina Alvarez, director of Admissions for Graduate Programs and Adult Degree Completion at the Mount, and Nicole Turner, recruitment and outreach coordinator in the Office of Graduate Programs and Adult Degree Completion. They were greatly aided by Samantha Stobert, First Year Experience Coordinator, and Jennifer Park, assistant librarian for Access and Outreach Services.